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Astronauts can’t take everything they need with them on a long space mission. Now they can use 3D printers to make personalized medical supplies on demand in space!

Image courtesy of Julielynn Wong, M.D.

Credit: NASA


On Jan. 11, the first medical supplies were 3D printed off Earth.  Hand injuries are common medical problems for astronauts. But it wasn’t possible to make custom-fitted splints for astronauts during a space mission until now.

Julielynn Wong, M.D.

Dr. Julielynn Wong

Dr. Julielynn Wong, a medical doctor, scientist, and founder of 3D4MD, a social enterprise that makes 3D printable medical supplies, showed that you can 3D print a custom mallet finger splint for an astronaut by using (1) a laser hand scan saved from the fitting process for spacesuit gloves, (2) free software, and (3) a solar-powered 3D printer.

The 3D4MD team designed one splint with a star pattern to highlight that it was made amongst the stars.  Both splint models were designed to be worn without a velcro strap in case this item is not readily available during a space mission or on Earth.

Mallet finger injuries are common hand injuries on Earth.  Improperly treated mallet finger injuries can lead to permanent crippling hand deformities.  Research indicates that the best way to treat mallet finger injuries is to use custom-fitted, handmade splints.  Sadly, there is a global shortage of skilled healthcare workers who can make these custom-fitted splints, especially in rural communities.

Dr. Wong’s global team of Medical Makers are developing a way to use cellphones to scan patients and 3D print custom mallet splints on-site using recycled plastic and solar-powered 3D printers.  This could save time and money and improve health outcomes for the 45% of the world’s population who live in rural areas and who lack access to healthcare.
3D4MD’s innovative project shows how advancing space medicine can also enhance healthcare here on Earth, at home and abroad.  This project was 100% funded by revenue from keynote speeches, workshops, and 3D printing consulting services provided by 3D4MD, a social enterprise that is building a digital library of crowd-sourced, quality-tested, 3D printable solutions for unlimited humanitarian use.
For further information, please contact Dr. Julielynn Wong at 416.519.4846 or julielynn.wong@3d4md.com or watch a short news video here!



Medical Makers: A new 3D4MD program

Medical MakersCanada Makes is proud to support Medical Makers, a new initiative from our partners at 3D4MD.

Medical Makers’ mission is to inspire, educate, and empower innovators, patients, and healthcare providers to build sustainable solutions to save lives, time, and money.

Dr. Julielynn Wong, Founder & President, Medical Makers + 3D4MD said, “based on the incredible success of 3D4MD, we want to leverage other maker skills and technologies to support our global humanitarian work. The 3D4MD internship program is now being transitioned into the Medical Makers program.”

Who should be a Medical Maker?

Medical Makers is seeking people – including students, educators, professionals, retirees, patients and healthcare providers – who want to apply their creativity and compassion to serve humanity and save lives, time, and money.  Anybody can be an innovator so no prior experience or skills are required.

Benefits of being a Medical Maker

  • Learn cutting-edge technology skills and create products for social good
  • Connect with innovators, patients, healthcare professionals, and others
  • Earn recognition for your groundbreaking accomplishments
  • Have a meaningful and unique learning experience
  • Give back to your local and global community

Learn more by visiting Medical Makers’ website

View one of Medical Makers’ success stories here

3D4MD joins Canada Makes

OTTAWA – Canada Makes is pleased to welcome 3D4MD as its newest member. 3D4MD creates 3D printable medical supplies to deliver healthcare in the most challenging places to those who need it the most.3D4MD

“3D printing offers the opportunity for real change in how everything is done and 3D4MD is at forefront of this new reality,” said Martin Lavoie Director of Innovation with Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME). “The innovative work being done at 3D4MD will save lives and bring new capabilities to remote areas until now only envisioned in science fiction.”

“3D4MD will be the first enterprise to 3D print medical tools in space.  Low-cost, mobile 3D printers allow us to deliver better healthcare for space missions, the developing world, and here at home, said Dr. Julielynn Wong, Director 3D4MD.

Over one billion people lack access to electricity.  In many remote areas, to have access to a simple medical item is expensive and can take weeks or months to arrive in the hands of medical staff.  3D4MD‘s Dr. Wong has designed and tested a solar-powered, plug-and-play, ultra-portable 3D printing system to manufacture a range of hygienic, effective, and low-cost medical supplies at the point of use.

3D printer medical bag

Ultra-portable, plug-and-play, solar-powered 3D printing system

Today it’s possible to use low-cost 3D printers to make medical supplies locally using solar energy.  3D4MD’s mission is to use 3D printers to deliver the highest standard of medical care in the most challenging places to those who need it the most.  3D4MD brings technologists, healthcare professionals and patients together to create affordable 3D printable medical solutions to positively impact over one billion lives.

Visit 3D4MD’s website to learn more